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Two arrested in connection with murder of teen in St. George

Posted at 11:11 AM, Aug 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-15 17:55:23-04

ST. GEORGE, Utah — A man and woman were booked into the Washington County Jail Thursday morning in connection with the death of an 18-year-old in St. George.

Officers responded to a home near 300 N 2700 E on Wednesday after receiving a report that a man was shot in the head. As they arrived at the home, one of the officers saw a gray Nissan Titan pickup speed away from the residence. The officer stopped the Titan and spoke with the driver, Nicanor Vasquez-Mendoza.

According to a probable cause statement, Vasquez-Mendoza told police he had witnessed Skyler Armstrong shoot himself in the head.

Police found Armstrong, who had suffered a gunshot wound to his left temple, in a bedroom. The investigation later revealed that Armstrong was right-handed, and was not likely to have shot himself with a gun wielded in his left hand.

“Detectives arrived on scene and identified 3 juveniles and one adult that are friends of Skyler and in the bedroom at the time of the shooting,” the probable cause statement said.

Those four reported that they had been looking at their phones at the time of the shooting. A fifth friend told police that Vasquez-Mendoza was also in the bedroom when the shot was fired, the statement said.

The same witness told police that Vasquez-Mendoza had been smoking methamphetamine in the room before loading a single round into a .38 Special and spinning the cylinder.

“Nicanor pointed the gun at the ground and pressed the trigger. The gun did not fire. Nicanor pointed the firearm at one of Skyler’s friends (a juvenile). The friend stated he was afraid he was going to be shot. Nicanor pointed the gun at Skyler and pressed the trigger again. The gun went off shooting Skyler in the head,” the probable cause statement said.

Silvia Lopez, 26, whom police identified as Vasquez-Mendoza’s girlfriend, is accused of conspiring with Vasquez-Mendoza to have the witnesses give police a false account of the incident.

“A while after making the initial statements, two of the friends changed their statements. They provided statements that Nicanor shot Skyler,” the probable cause statement said.

An investigator searched a bathroom attached to the bedroom and located the revolver allegedly used to kill Armstrong. Police said they also found a pipe that is believed to have been used to smoke methamphetamine and a wallet containing a debit card bearing Vasquez-Mendoza’s name.

“Also in the wallet was a bill of sale for a Smith & Wesson 38 Special firearm. The serial number on the bill of sale matched the serial number of the firearm
covered in blood that is suspected to have killed [Armstrong],” the probable cause statement said.

After searching Vasquez-Mendoza’s truck, police said they also found an AR-15 rifle and an ounce of a substance believed to be methamphetamine.

“[Vasquez-Mendoza] admitted to investigators that when Skyler was shot, he grabbed his meth and rifle. [Vasquez-Mendoza] put them in the truck and left the scene,” the probable cause statement said.

Vasquez-Mendoza faces felony charges of murder, aggravated assault, tampering with a witness, possession of a firearm by a restricted person and a charge related to the distribution of a controlled substance. He also faces misdemeanor charges of use or possession of drug paraphernalia and carrying a dangerous weapon under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Lopez faces five felony counts of tampering with a witness and one felony count of obstruction of justice.